Haibane Renmei Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Haibane Renmei

Haibane Renmei Vol. #2

By Kim Wolstenholme     June 22, 2005
Release Date: June 13, 2005


Haibane Renmei Vol. #2
© MVM Entertainment


What They Say
Rakka works with Nemu at the library to find her place in life and renews her curiosity about the outside world. Kuu, a younger Haibane who is normally bright and cheerful, helps Rakka find her place in the Old Home, but then becomes subdued and her halo begins to fade! Rakka’s worries become a desperate search when Kuu goes missing – is this related to the “Day of Flight”? Overwhelmed with sadness, Rakka is further shocked by a revelation about Reki’s past.

Episodes

05: Library, Abandoned Factory, The Beginning of the World
06: End of Summer, Rain, Loss
07: Scar, Illness, Arrival of Winter

The Review!
The second disk of Haibane Renmei continues in the same vein as the first, with Rakka still coming to terms with her surroundings.

Audio:

There are a choice of two audio tracks, Japanese 2.0 and English 2.0. I watched the show in its entirety in Japanese and noticed no problems. The dialogue comes across crisp and clear from the centre speakers, while the left and right front speakers are used occasionally for sound effects and music. I also spot checked the English track and noticed no problems with this option either.

Video:

Haibane Renmei is presented in its original aspect ration of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for widescreen TVs. The picture quality is what you would expect for a newish show and I noticed no major problems with the picture quality.

Packaging:

No packaging was available as only a review disk was supplied.

Menu:

The menu starts with the Haibane Renmei logo with feathers flying across the screen, this then segues into a static picture of the Old Home seen from the outside. The title music plays over the menu and the options are to the left of the screen. Sub menus are silent but each menu option can be accessed quickly. Overall, it’s not a particularly exciting menu, but it’s perfectly functional.

Extras:

To kick off the extras on the second disk we have the clean closing credits, followed by a couple of TV commercials for the DVD release that were aired in Japan. Next we have the Art Gallery, a series of 44 design sketches for the show. Unfortunately these have to be manually selected which means that you’ll need to keep your DVD remote handy when you select this option. This time round the sketches are more focused around objects found in the show with some sketches of the Old Home thrown in for good measure.

Next we have the Episode Previews, as noted in my last review these were never originally aired with the episodes so they are included as an extra here. Previews for episodes 6, 7 and 8 are included. Finally we have the MVM previews, this time for Gungrave and ROD the TV.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)

The first disk of Haibane Renmei introduced the world that Rakka, a newborn Haibane, found herself in. Following Rakka through her first few weeks as a Haibane the first four episodes set out the basics for the series, mainly setting and character. With the setting for the series now established the second disk concentrates on the characters in the series, and manages to pack quite an emotional punch.

At the end of the first volume Rakka was starting her search for a job in order to support herself. All Haibane are expected to work, however there are only a few professions open to them, so Rakka is shadowing the other Haibane in their jobs as she tries to find something that she’d enjoy doing. In episode 5 Rakka is helping Nemu out at the library, an environment that suits her natural curiosity about the world she now inhabits. Rakka finds herself drawn to the books that are brought into Glie by the Toga in the hope of finding stories about the outside world, or more information about the town of Glie itself.

It’s hard to say whether the Toga vet the books before passing them onto the library, but many of the books that come into Glie are in rather bad condition and some of them are unable to be read in their entirety. One such book was brought into the library many years ago and contained a story on the beginning of the world, which piqued the interest of Nemu and the other librarian Sumiko. Now with Sumiko due to take maternity leave very soon, Nemu has written her own take on the beginning of the world but is stuck on an ending – something that Rakka is only too happy to help with. Between them they give Sumiko a book that holds a unique idea about both the beginning of the world and the Haibane.

In the next two episodes the series starts to take a much darker outlook on life for the Haibane in Glie, especially Rakka. Since being born at the Old Home Rakka has been reliant on the other Haibane, and has struck up a firm friendship with the youngest of the older Haibane, Kuu. With her constant cheerful attitude Kuu has helped Rakka in many ways not least helping her find her own room instead of having to stay in the guest room. Kuu has always wanted a younger sister to look after so it’s no real surprise that she’s been helping Rakka since she arrived, even if Rakka wasn’t quite the younger sister Kuu was hoping for.

However, recently Kuu has started to become more introspective and has started spending more time on her own. She has even started to give away some of her possessions including a winter coat that she passes onto Rakka as winter is fast approaching. This change in season brings with it a major revelation for Rakka, as the reason for Kuu’s change in outlook is revealed.

Since arriving in Glie, Rakka has been told that the inhabitants of the town, human and Haibane alike are not allowed outside the walls of the town. This is not strictly true – there is an occasion when Haibane are allowed outside Glie, but they are unable to return. This is the ‘Day of Flight’ and is a very rare occurrence, but something that the Haibane are aware of. Even though she is the youngest of the older Haibane, Kuu has reached her ‘Day of Flight’, something that is going to impact Rakka’s outlook quite dramatically.

Without Kuu, Rakka’s mood deepens, as she in unable to comprehend that the people she is only just getting to know, could suddenly disappear without any real warning. She visit’s Kuu’s room and regularly cleans it – just in case she comes back – something that even Rakka realises will never happen. While the other Haibane continue as normal, Rakka withdraws and only sees the others when strictly necessary. There is another reason for her withdrawing from the others as Rakka has noticed that her wings have developed black lesions. Unsure how to deal with this Rakka cuts the affected feathers off, only to notice that the blackness is spreading. In the end it is Reki who notices what is happening to Rakka and steps in to help.

The second disk adds an emotional depth to the series, and indicates that there is much more going on under the surface. After the first disk introduced the majority of the characters, the second disk goes on to concentrate on the two girls that I’m sure will be the focal point for the remainder of the series – Rakka and Reki. At the end of this disk they are brought together by an ailment that both of them have suffered, which gives Rakka an opportunity to get to know the girl who nursed her through her first night as a Haibane better. Reki it seems has quite a few skeletons in her closet, and we get to meet one of them during these episodes – a boy who lives at the other Haibane ‘nest’. The Old Home isn’t the only place where Haibane live, there is also a co-ed Haibane ‘nest’ at an old abandoned factory situated somewhere on the outskirts of Glie.

This volume has seen quite a change in Rakka, from being a naturally curious, cheerful girl, to being unsure about her future (and the future of the others around her) and despondent. This change is handled well, and is not at all unbelievable, especially when she has had to deal with losing a new friend so soon into her new life. Rakka hangs onto the memory of Kuu much more than the other Haibane who view the ‘Day of Flight’ as part of the natural cycle, something that Rakka is unable to accept. Reki has also experienced a similar situation to Rakka and it is only natural that she steps in to try and help Rakka through this difficult time. Reki is also one of the older Haibane at Old Home (along with Nemu), so it’s unsurprising that she decides that Rakka needs more help and support than she was getting.

The second volume leaves us at the halfway point in the series, and while none of the questions I found myself asking during the first volume have been answered, I have found myself responding to the characters on a more emotional level. It’s clear that ABe wants us to be intrigued by the world he’s created but has shown no real interest in addressing any of the questions that the viewers may be asking. Instead he’s shifted the focus firmly away from the environment and has started to paint the characters to give them more depth. The characters now seem even more intriguing as we’re unsure what could potentially happen next as the setting has still not been fully realised.

While it’s fair to say that nothing much has really happened in the series so far, Haibane Renmei takes normal every day things that might happen and approaches them from a slightly off centre angle making them appear much more interesting than usual. It is this approach, coupled with the gorgeous animation and interesting characters that makes this series fairly unique.

In summary-

The three episodes on this disk flew by making me realise how engrossed in the world of the Haibane I’d become. While the slow pace of the series does not change, the story has taken an emotional turn that was very unexpected and surprising. Due to this new direction I’ve found myself becoming more emotionally involved with the characters to the extent that I actually care about what may happen to them.

So far I can’t recommend Haibane Renmei highly enough, if you’re looking for a change from the usual action packed anime fare and fancy something with a bit more depth, then this series is for you.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles,Art Gallery,Clean closing,Episode Previews

Review Equipment
Panasonic 42” Plasma, Arcam 88+ Prog Scan DVD Player, Kef Egg 7.1 Speaker system with a Ruark log sub. Denon 3802 amplifier.


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